I might be a lot more annoyed over the Dorne subplot if I didn’t have Jaime and Doran to make me feel like my time wasn’t being wasted.
This is the part where I talk about what’s going on with Jaime. He has a good handle on the situation with Myrcella, but no idea of what’s happened in King’s Landing since he left.
This is a theme that seems to be prominent in the Twincest storyline: We don’t get to choose who we love. It’s coming back in the last two episodes of this season. Ellaria Sand reassures Jaime of the same thing, likening his affair with Cersei to her partnership with Oberyn Martell. Which is problematic, in my opinion. It was equally problematic when Jaime shared the same insight with Brienne back in early Season 3, as if her attraction to Renly, and Renly’s relationship with Loras Tyrell, were comparable to him fucking his sister.
What’s going on with Ellaria Sand, though? Episode 9 appears to be the denouement to Jaime’s trip to Dorne. While I think Sansa being at Winterfell is a faulty idea that the show has handled very well, Jaime going to Dorne is a more viable idea that the show has handled poorly. I’m not going to focus on talking about how silly this adventure has been; I just want to understand what’s going on.
Last episode showed us what happens when grown-ups (Prince Doran) step in. Cooler heads prevail! Myrcella’s going home to the Red Keep, Trystane’s going with her, their betrothal is still on, and he gets a spot on the Small Council. Jaime’s probably thinking: this should be good enough for Cersei. She wanted her daughter safely returned to her, and so she’s getting exactly that! She’ll have no reason to complain about anything else, right?
Now she’s in no position to appreciate her daughter’s return home. She’s also in no position to marginalize Trystane Martell’s position on the Small Council, so that’s a relief. Uncle Kevan will probably welcome Trystane to his position, but that’s assuming Trystane makes it that far. I won’t count chickens before they hatch. I seem to have been counting a lot of chickens this season, but a lot of shit could happen to Jaime and his peeps on the journey back from the Water Gardens.
What exactly is Ellaria thinking in this episode? And let’s remember what she’s been trying to accomplish all this season. (There’s a verb tense: present perfect progressive (has been trying to accomplish), as opposed to present progressive (is trying to accomplish), simple present (tries to accomplish) or simple past (tried to accomplish).) What was the end goal of whatever she was planning to do to Myrcella?
Surely she knew that mutilating Cersei’s daughter wouldn’t bring Oberyn back from the dead. Her goal was to provoke Queen Cersei into declaring war on Dorne, so the Martells could hit back. That would be a way to start a war, in a realm that’s already had more than its fill of fighting.
By the end of the episode, Ellaria seems to have screwed her head on straight regarding the Lannisters, and the state of the realm. She tells Jaime she doesn’t blame his daughter for what happened to Oberyn, and by saying that, she also announces that she knows the rumors are true. And she gives Jaime that comforting platitude of “We can’t choose who we love.”
“You think I disapprove? Why? Because people disapprove of that sort of thing where you are from? They disapproved of Oberyn and me where you are from. Here no one blinked an eye. 100 years ago, no one would have blinked an eye at you if you’d been named Targaryen. It’s always changing, who we’re supposed to love and who we’re not. The only thing that stays the same is that we want who we want.”
I’m sure the message in here is that what is considered deviant or appropriate depends on context. It’s true that a high lord or princeling like Oberyn Martell wouldn’t be able to walk around openly with a woman with a bastard surname north of Dorne, and that says more about the northern provinces’ hypocrisy than any aspect of Oberyn and Ellaria’s lives together. Oberyn also would not so easily get away with going to bed with men in the northern provinces, and that, too, is a matter of northern hypocrisy rather than how Oberyn treated his male lovers.
Whereas, the Targaryens got away with incestuous marriages for centuries, and is that supposed to mean the twins haven’t done anything wrong? I think Ellaria is forgetting that “half the Targaryens went mad.” When kings go mad, the realm suffers. She’s talking to the man who killed one of those batshit Targaryens whose parents were brother and sister. He slit the throat of a king who suffered the effects of inbreeding, and a few years later he helped his sister conceive Joffrey. If he’s honest with himself, Jaime should know that “we don’t choose who we love” is not sufficient to excuse his affair with Cersei. We can’t control how we fall in love, but we do have a say in where, how and with whom we spend our time.
In the sneak peek for Episode 10, we hear Jaime’s voice saying, once again: “We can’t choose who we love.” Since there’s no visual information to accompany his voice, we have no idea where Jaime is, or to whom he’s saying this. We hear this just after we see Cersei tearfully confessing that she was alone and scared. This is the last episode of the season, and Jaime seems to have wrapped up his journey south with a nice fluffy bow on top, so if he’s not already on the way back to the Red Keep, he’s preparing to leave with Myrcella and Trystane.
Episode 9 showed us another glimpse of Jaime trying to play Daddy to Myrcella. When he remarks on the skimpiness of her dress, he’s trying to parent her. When she responds that the Dornish climate agrees with her, she’s rejecting his attempt at parenting. She’s too mature to be his little girl, and she was never his to begin with. It’s true that he’s never been a father to her. While it’s fucked up for Cersei to act like it was Jaime’s idea to be removed from her children’s lives, from Myrcella’s perspective, it doesn’t matter whose fault it was that Jaime wasn’t even much of an uncle to her. He simply wasn’t there, and she grew up just fine without his involvement. She looks happy when Jaime accepts Prince Doran’s terms of bringing Trystane back to the Red Keep with Myrcella. Not so happy when Jaime treats her like a helpless kid who needs his protection.
For the final episode, the following conditions apply: 1. Jaime has done the job he set out to do in Dorne, 2. Myrcella and Trystane are coming back to the Red Keep with him and Bronn, and 3. Cersei has been arrested for charges having to do with her affair with Little Cousin Lancel, and 4. Jaime has no idea what’s happening to his sister.
When Jaime finds out about Cersei’s arrest, he’ll be upset. That’s a given. When he finds out WHY she’s been arrested, I just can’t help but think he’ll be pissed. At her. He’ll be more pissed at her than worried about her. While he was incarcerated in the Stark-Tully camp and kept in horribly unhealthy conditions, Cersei was fucking Lancel. After Jaime was dragged through a world of shit on the way back to her, including the loss of his dominant hand, she told him he’d taken too long in returning to her, and suggested that he owed her an apology for what he’d been through.
I can see that the show has decided to get more mileage out of the twincest relationship than in the books. Otherwise, Jaime would not have fucked Cersei in S4:E10. His withdrawing from his twin is not a perfectly linear process, and the show wants to tease it out some more. Jaime’s voyage to Dorne is a way of keeping the twincest going on longer before the affair falls apart.
I don’t know how much longer it’ll be drawn out before Benioff & Weiss say they’ve had enough. What I’d like to know is: when Jaime gets back to King’s Landing and finds out his sister is where she is, on charges of doing what she absolutely did, how badly will he respond?
It would fit together well enough if Jaime’s saying “we can’t choose who we love” is part of his explaining to Myrcella why she should call him Father instead of Uncle Jaime. It would be really weird if he said such a thing to Cersei after he finds out how she got arrested. Somehow, I just think that “we always want who we want” idea wouldn’t really speak to him so well if he found out what Cersei really wanted at one point was Lancel between her legs. No, I don’t think he’d sympathize with her on that.
Loras Tyrell is under arrest for a victimless crime. Nobody suffered when he messed around with Olyvar. Nobody was in danger due to his relationship with Renly. We could say that Renly put his claim in jeopardy by not consummating his marriage to Margaery, but she was happy to share him with her brother. They weren’t hurting anyone by enjoying each other. Margaery is under arrest for defending her brother for a victimless crime. She hasn’t put anyone in danger. Cersei, meanwhile, knew she was expected to have the king’s children, and she went out of her way to do the opposite. Jaime knew they were committing high treason by conceiving children together, and he did it anyway. (It’s a major improvement from slitting the previous king’s throat, I’ll grant him.) When Cersei married the king, that would have been a good time to bring their affair to an end, and instead they made Joffrey. That’s very different from a young high lord who prefers the company of men, or a naive young noblewoman with a pathetic crush on her liege lord, or a bisexual princeling partnered with a woman named Sand. They did it, their children exist, and now they need to deal with the consequences. They could have foreseen those consequences, though. When Jaime finds out about the world of shit now raining on his sister’s head, he shouldn’t be surprised.